Women in Sports Talk How to Tackle A Male-Dominated Industry
Sports is a business, and we know just the women selling it. If you've ever dreamed of being the brains behind the sports industry and working for a team of your own, Chief Strategy Officer of the LA Clippers Jennifer van Dijk (formerly of the NBA), Fox News West General Manager Lindsay Amstutz, and sports broadcaster, sideline reporter and TV personality Alex Curry are the women to talk to.
This March, we had the opportunity to sit down with all three of these trailblazers at our LA Hive to talk more about their experiences creating flourishing careers in a male-dominated industry. Because, as Lindsay so aptly puts it, success is yours when "...you’re a good person, and you’re being your authentic self and you’re working your tush off."
“Networking is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. There is not a party you’re going to go to and meet the person that’s going to give you your dream job that day, right? It is about making a lot of connections, having a lot of great conversations—but more than anything, connecting authentically.”
“And with a smile on your face. Always with a smile. It’s very powerful to have a smile and make someone feel good.”
“The good news is that you’ve been networking pretty much since you were born… It’s just as Alex said—being nice to everyone, not being a jerk—especially in the sports world. Some of these are just universal truths, but the sports world is very, very small and everybody knows each other. Which is great if you’re good, because if you’re good, people want to help you, they want to take credit for your success and they want to help you find opportunities and once you’re in, you can move around a bit more."
On the Lack of Women in Sports
“The best thing that I’ve found, and certainly so many other women in the room who have been apart of it, is that there’s a sisterhood too… the stories you hear of women trying to cut each other down or “there can only be one”, certainly hasn’t been my experience and it’s a testament to the many women in the room that have created that at Fox Sports, and there’s no reason we can’t continue to create that."
“Unequivocally, yes it is male dominated. But it is about those networks and those opportunities… I think for me it was really situational. If one wasn’t going to value me and my opinions and what I brought to the table, I was going to find another one."
"The challenge I would say, for me, talking about a male sport is the immediate doubt you get from everybody: ‘Oh, does she really know what she’s talking about? She never played. Can she do it?’ I’ve been doubted my entire life. I almost used that doubt as motivation to prove people wrong, and I’ve found out that the most powerful tool is to not let it get to you, don’t talk back, and let your actions speak louder than your words. Just go and do it and prove them wrong.”
On Applying for the Job You’re Unqualified For
"If you’re confident, and you’re personable, and you want to connect with the person and you’re willing to work hard and put in the time—be the first one there, last one to leave, good attitude—I mean, anything is possible with that.”
“Particularly with job descriptions (JD’s)...women take it very seriously. And if there’s ten qualifications and we don’t hit all ten we don’t apply…[but] you can certainly learn it. It’s not gospel, just keep that in mind. The big thing is coming to these events, being scrappy and feisty, finding a way in. Looking for all the potential paths you can explore."
“Don’t underestimate the power of connection and the power of personality. Fake it ‘till you make it! Like I said, I pretended like I knew how to write a script and put a show together and somehow pulled it out and got an opportunity out of it. You kind of learn as you go."
On Hustling After Disappointment
"How you respond in a professional manner is going to speak so much more loudly than if you get mad, or if you’re like, ‘Oh, forget them!’ It’s like, ‘No? I didn’t get it? Great. Tell me what I need to do to be better.’ Take the feedback—especially once the emotion dies down—your response is going to be very carefully watched by everybody which gives you an incredible opportunity. If you go in and you’re like, ‘I’m just going to handle my business. I’m going to keep getting coffee, and I’m going to keep doing all of the tasks that I have in my current role to the best of my ability,’ everybody’s going to notice that, and then the next time it [a promotion] comes around, you’re going to get it. The best thing you can do for yourself is respond like a pro and show [them] everyday why [they] made a mistake.”
“My advice? Let it out, cry, take a moment and just fully let all the emotion come out—we’re human—and then, like Lindsey said, you’ve got to wrap it up. Don’t let anyone at work see it and just use it as motivation to prove that you can get there and you will get there."
“Success isn’t a straight line. Best thing that ever happened to me, ten years ago to this month, I got fired. I’m not kidding it was the best thing. It showed me that I couldn’t take this stuff personally. Things are going to happen. I was so much stronger, and more liberated and frankly better at my next job after that happened. Lick your wounds, for sure. But get fired—it’s really good for your confidence.”